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Auburn

vs.

Clemson

College Football Pick

9/9/17

Both Clemson and Auburn looked dominant in opening wins, but playing Kent State and Georgia Southern is a bit different than a power school. It will be the rematch of last year when Clemson barely won 19-13 as -7.5 point favorites. This time, playing at Memorial Stadium, the Clemson Tigers are a slightly smaller -6.5 point favorite as seen at 5Dimes Sportsbook.

Clemson has a question at quarterback this season with Kelly Bryant and those questions weren’t answered last week despite scoring 56 points. Bryant had just 236 passing yards with a touchdown and interception in the win. The running game is what propelled the Tigers as four different guys had more than 50 yards (Bryant had 77) to total 353 and six touchdowns as a team. But facing the Auburn front line is going to be a bit different as Clemson averaged just 3.4 yards per carry in last year’s win, led by Wayne Gallman. Maybe conveniently for Bryant, Deshaun Watson wasn't that good in the win, which could help Bryant’s case if he struggles.

The problem for Clemson is that Auburn’s defense should be even better this year with eight starters returning from a group that gave up just 17.1 points per game. With some all-SEC players on the defensive line, it’s going to be a battle in the trenches in this game, making the line seem a bit large.

On the other end, it’s the same situation as Auburn welcomed former Baylor quarterback Jarrett Stidham to the offense. Like Bryant, he wasn’t that successful in the opener (185 passing yards, 2 TDs, one INT), despite his team winning big. But unlike Bryant, Stidham isn’t a dual-threat quarterback. For the ground game, Auburn will use a mix of Kerryon Johnson and Kam Martin, who both had 136 rushing yards in the opener. Auburn ran into a wall when these teams played last year as they had just 87 yards on 2.1 yards per carry, but some of that can be attributed to poor quarterback play. The hope for Auburn fans is that Stidham is a step up from the combination of Sean White, Jeremy Johnson and John Franklin III.

Yet even if Stidham is better than those guys, Clemson’s defense is still one of the best in the country with seven starters back. With guys like Austin Bryant up front and Mark Fields and Van Smith in the secondary, it’s going to be yet another slugfest between these teams.

Clemson is favored by almost a touchdown maybe partly due to being National Champions, but without Watson, this offense clearly isn’t the same group. Against Auburn’s defense, Kelly Bryant will face some adversity and that could lead to trouble. This will be a close, low-scoring game and taking the underdog seems like a good option with both teams almost replicating each other in terms of talent and how they attack.

Our Pick - at a game day price of +4.5, we have lost considerable value on the Auburn side, down from +6.5 earlier in the week. So we'll tread lightly here. That said, we expect a huge effort from Auburn as they look for a litte revenge from a 6 point loss a year ago. Auburn +5

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